Monday, December 17, 2018

Is Monticello Monetizing Race at Jefferson’s Expense?

by Dr. M. Andrew Holowchak

 Consider this simple syllogism: Slavery is bad; Thomas Jefferson owned slaves; so, Thomas Jefferson was bad. Consider this simplistic precept: Racism is bad. Both are anything but profound and certainly not illuminating, but they typify, with due consideration for hyperbole, the quality and blinkered approach to Jeffersonian scholarship in the past several decades. The focal issue has been Jefferson’s racism, and the issue within the issue has been his assumed relationship with Sally Hemings. Jeffersonian scholarship has become an exercise in battology—a useless, fatuous repetition of the same claims but with a slightly different twist. “Jefferson was a racist but he really loved Sally Hemings” versus “Jefferson was a racist and he raped Sally Hemings,” and so on. Those twists are what merit publication. The collision of radically different, but historically reasonable, ideas, needed for advances in historical scholarship, has become anathema.

 Yet there is a place for simple syllogisms and simplistic precepts. They were, for instance, a significant part of a youth’s education in antiquity. The ancient Greek and Roman Stoics commonly used such syllogisms and precepts to hammer home lessons concerning happiness. Simple syllogism: One always benefits by having more of a particular virtue; too much wealth can bring ruin; so, wealth is not a virtue. Precept: Virtue is the sole good. For the Stoics, such simple syllogisms and simplistic precepts were not meant to be profound or provocative. They were uttered to reinforce virtuous behavior with the aim of equanimity. They were especially useful for children, whose rational faculties were too undersized and inchoate to appreciate the richness and complexity of circumstances, which were for those persons of full rational maturity, for the Stoics, the true determinants of virtuous behavior, not simple syllogisms or simplistic precepts. Uttering that wealth is irrelevant to happiness is itself not sufficient to mollify someone experiencing bankruptcy. Yet knowing that wealth itself is irrelevant to happiness is, in the words of French psychologist Jean Piaget, complete assimilation and accommodation of the principle such that it becomes part of the fabric of a person. That takes decades of agonizing critical thinking—of thinking through some issue to understand how it applies in all circumstances, of thinking through what makes a life meaningful. Once assimilated and accommodated, living consistently with the principle is easy.

 Issues of slavery and racism are equally complex, and cannot be understood by uttering simple syllogisms or simplistic precepts as scholars today are wont to do. Slavery is known to have been practiced in Ancient China as early as the 18th century B.C. and continued to be practiced till the twentieth century. Slavery was also practiced in India, in parts of Asia, in the Middle East, and even in Africa, where Blacks enslaved other Blacks. So prevalent was the institution that it was taken for granted prior to the American Revolution. Said John Jay: “Prior to the great revolution, the great majority or rather the great body of our people had been so long accustomed to the practice and convenience of having slaves, that very few among them even doubted the propriety and rectitude of it.” It is mostly with the ascendency of Enlightenment thinking, with its twin postulates of liberty and equality, articulated for illustration by Jefferson in his Declaration of Independence, that slavery has become vital and vibrant in scientific, moral, and political discussions.

 The driving force behind Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, has for at least two decades been using the issue of race as an enticement for bringing people to Monticello. It is unclear whether that strategy has worked to bring visitors, but it has brought it grant money. It began with their scholarly take on the 1998 DNA report, misleadingly titled “Jefferson Fathered Slaves’ Last Child,” on Jefferson’s paternity. Their report, published in 2000, stated that Jefferson was very likely the father of Eston Hemings and probably the father of all other children of Sally Hemings. In June, 2018, and by appeal to no new evidence, they pronounced, in a new exhibit on Sally Hemings, that the relationship was fact. “In the new exhibit exploring the life of Sally Hemings, her choices, and her connection to Thomas Jefferson, as well as in updates to our related online materials and print publications, the Foundation will henceforth assert what the evidence indicates and eliminate qualifying language related to the paternity of Eston Hemings as well as that related to Sally Hemings’s three other surviving children, whose descendants were not part of the 1998 DNA study.” They have also brought to bear the question whether Hemings was raped by Jefferson. What a tantalizing suggestion, and to my mind a sleazy one!

 That they claim, concerning Jefferson’s paternity, to be merely asserting what the evidence indicates is to me astonishing. As one who has taught logic and critical thinking for some 30 years and has published four books in that area, I admit to being flummoxed by that assertion. Thorough analysis of all the relevant evidence points to lack of a relationship, though I admit that I cannot make that utterance with a high degree of probability. I have never done that. We just do not know! Proof that something suspicious is happening is this: If the evidence is so compelling that we can safely state the relationship is factual, then why could not TJF have seen that some 20 years ago? The evidence has not changed.

 The situation at Monticello is toxic. They are unwilling to aim to settle the issues of Jefferson’s paternity and of his avowed racism by rational debate concerning the evidence, or even concerning what ought to count as evidence. Members of TJF—and many of them are, I suspect, sufficiently unfamiliar with Jefferson to be judges of the issue of paternity—have elected themselves to be the sole arbiters of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, which is no longer open to debate. Their influence extends to the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, run by the vice-president of TJF, as well as University of Virginia Press. They control who comes to the center and what books related to Jefferson get published. TJF’s depiction of Jefferson, jaded as it is, has won the day. It is now no longer necessary to recognize others who disagree with TJF, to read their arguments, to assess critically those arguments, and to engage in debate with them.

 What is the next step?

 The next step, doubtless, will be to remove or disallow all the excellent books in Monticello’s library concerning arguments for skepticism or anti-paternity—Dr. Robert Turner’s Scholars Commission Report, Cynthia Burton’s Jefferson Vindicated, and William Hyland’s In Defense of Thomas Jefferson. There is no need to remove my Framing a Legend: Exposing the Distorted History of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings—as well as books that paint Jefferson in a favorable light. It, and my numerous other books which I have published on Jefferson’s philosophical thinking (e.g., Thomas Jefferson: Moralist: Jefferson’s Political Philosophy and the Metaphysics of Utopia: and Thomas Jefferson’s Bible: With Introduction and Critical Commentary) and have nothing to do with Sally Hemings, but take us deep into the mind of Jefferson, have never been at their library.

 What is worse, as New York Times reporter Farah Stockman says, is that TJF “is phasing out the popular ‘house tour’ of the mansion, … [thereby] radically changing what is experienced by the more than 400,000 tourists who visit Monticello annually.” Why would TJF phase out a popular tour? Why is that significant? Tourists will no longer see the Great Clock; the Native American artifacts; the numerous paintings (e.g., Bacon, Locke, and Newton); the many busts (e.g., Jefferson and Hamilton, face to face); the library sorted according to Memory, Reason, and Imagination; the inventions and gewgaws (e.g., the dumbwaiter, the revolving bookstand, and the polygraph); among other things. Tourists to Monticello will be kept outside to see Sally Hemings’ room and the slaves’ quarters at Mulberry Row. Jefferson’s beloved Monticello might soon be a shrine to Sally Hemings, even though we do not know whether she and Jefferson had a relationship (see my article on HNN)!

 To the objection that Monticello ought to be principally about Jefferson and not about slavery or Sally Hemings, Annette Gordon-Reed replies:“Some people come here and say, ‘I didn’t come here, to a slave plantation, to hear about slavery.’ There’s nothing to do but keep pushing back.” To her, it has become a shoving match. Monticello is not Jefferson’s home, but a “slave plantation”—her agenda is plain—and visitors to it will hear about that whether or not it suits them. The comment plainly betrays the political posture of TJF. There is a good reason to keep on shoving. Monticello was awarded NEH grants in 2018 totaling nearly one million dollars! The focus on race is being handsomely rewarded, even if truth is deserted. Who cares if the number of visitors radically declines if grant money keeps pouring in?

 While it is laudable that members of the TJF wish to be viewed historically as paladins of human rights, they are doing so by constructing an image of Jefferson that is warped by political ideals. Their Jefferson is an opportunist, hypocrite, racist, and perhaps even rapist, and they do not give voice to scholars who disagree. The climate is authoritarian—certainly not in keeping with Jefferson’s republican thinking.

 Historical truth and a pro-human-rights agenda are not inconsistent. In pressing too hard, too fast, for the latter, we do so at the expense of the former, and the accounts of the past we leave behind to future generations become no more reliable than Homer’s Iliad—a story founded on historical truth, but overwhelmingly colored by fancy.

 Yet I am, like Jefferson and perhaps naively, convinced of the good judgment of people over time. As the issue of race is a hot potato, Jefferson will continue to be a fall guy, and perhaps the quick monetary rewards of a focus on Jefferson’s racism will be a template also for short-term success at Poplar Forest. One can only hope that that will not be the case—that The Corporation for Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest not will sell out their souls for money.

 In the meantime, we must do what we can and also exercise patience. As Jefferson writes to Dr. Thomas Cooper (7 Oct. 1814): “We cannot always do what is absolutely best. Those with whom we act, entertaining different views, have the power and the right of carrying them into practice. Truth advances, and error recedes step by step only; and to do to our fellow men the most good in our power we must lead where we can, follow where we cannot and still go with them, watching always the favorable moment for helping them to another step.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thomas Jefferson To Dr. Benjamin Rush, Monticello, Sep. 23, 1800

DEAR SIR,-- I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of Aug. 22, and to congratulate you on the healthiness of your city. Still Baltimore, Norfolk & Providence admonish us that we are not clear of our new scourge. When great evils happen, I am in the habit of looking out for what good may arise from them as consolations to us, and Providence has in fact so established the order of things, as that most evils are the means of producing some good. The yellow fever will discourage the growth of great cities in our nation, & I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts, but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere, and less perfection in the others, with more health, virtue & freedom, would be my choice.
I agree with you entirely, in condemning the mania of giving names to objects of any kind after persons still living. Death alone can seal the title of any man to this honor, by putting it out of his power to forfeit it. There is one other mode of recording merit, which I have often thought might be introduced, so as to gratify the living by praising the dead. In giving, for instance, a commission of chief justice to Bushrod Washington, it should be in consideration of his integrity, and science in the laws, and of the services rendered to our country by his illustrious relation, &c. A commission to a descendant of Dr. Franklin, besides being in consideration of the proper qualifications of the person, should add that of the great services rendered by his illustrious ancestor, Bn Fr, by the advancement of science, by inventions useful to man, &c. I am not sure that we ought to change all our names. And during the regal government, sometimes, indeed, they were given through adulation; but often also as the reward of the merit of the times, sometimes for services rendered the colony. Perhaps, too, a name when given, should be deemed a sacred property.
I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the _genus irritabile vatum_ who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.
But enough of this: it is more than I have before committed to paper on the subject of all the lies that has been preached and printed against me. I have not seen the work of Sonnoni which you mention, but I have seen another work on Africa, (Parke's,) which I fear will throw cold water on the hopes of the friends of freedom. You will hear an account of an attempt at insurrection in this state. I am looking with anxiety to see what will be it's effect on our state. We are truly to be pitied. I fear we have little chance to see you at the Federal city or in Virginia, and as little at Philadelphia. It would be a great treat to receive you here. But nothing but sickness could effect that; so I do not wish it. For I wish you health and happiness, and think of you with affection.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thomas Jefferson, Racism, and Slavery

By James D. Agresti and Amanda Read Sheik
June 6, 2018

Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States. Until recently, he was also one of the most widely revered people in U.S. history. Now, he is often spurned and reviled for racism, but the charges against him are highly misleading or outright false.

Abruptly Changing Views of Jefferson

For more than two centuries, the Democratic Party proudly traced its roots to Jefferson. In 2008, Wesley Clark, a former Democratic candidate for President of the United States, wrote: “Every year in most states, Democrats flock to their annual Jefferson-Jackson dinners. The emphasis is on Thomas Jefferson, of course, considered the founding father of the Democratic Party.”
From their very beginnings, Republicans also laid claim to Jefferson. The Republican Party, which was formed for the purpose of opposing slavery, was so-named because its founders considered their principles to be aligned with that of Jefferson and the party he formed, which was called the “Republicans.” and later the “Democratic Republicans.” The first Republican platform called for “restoring the action of the Federal Government to the principles of Washington and Jefferson….”
“All honor to Jefferson,” wrote Abraham Lincoln, for having “the coolness, forecast, and capacity, to introduce into” the Declaration of Independence the “truth” that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The 2007 World Book Encyclopedia contains an article by Ph.D. historian Noble E. Cunningham that states: “Jefferson molded the American spirit and mind. Every later generation has turned to him for inspiration.”

A mere decade later, longstanding and widespread admiration for Jefferson has turned to rejection and scorn in some major segments of society. Jefferson is now under blistering attack from professors, students, and others who say he was a racist. In April, some of these people even vandalized a statue of Jefferson at the University of Virginia, the school that he founded.
As recently as 2007, the history page of the Democratic Party touted Jefferson as “the first Democratic President.” This page has since been scrubbed of any reference to Jefferson. Now, the earliest president it mentions is Woodrow Wilson, a staunch segregationist and supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 2017, the Democratic Party of Louisiana renamed its largest annual fundraiser from the “Jefferson-Jackson Dinner” to the “True Blue Gala” to “reflect the progress of the party and the changing times.” Likewise, the Democratic Parties of Connecticut, Arkansas, Iowa, Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado have all struck the names of Jefferson and Jackson from their major fundraising events since 2015.

In 2016, hundreds of professors and students at the University of Virginia condemned the university’s president, Teresa Sullivan, for quoting Jefferson while calling for “cooperation and civility” after the election of Donald Trump. This group of scholars and pupils wrote that they were “deeply offended” and “incredibly disappointed” that Sullivan used Jefferson “as a moral compass,” because he “owned hundreds of slaves” and said that blacks are “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves” and are “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind.”

Those snippets from Jefferson reveal far more about the people who quoted them than they do about Jefferson, because they grossly misrepresent him.

“Incapable as Children”

Regarding the claim that Jefferson said black people are “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves,” his actual words, written in an 1814 letter, say something very different in context:
For men probably of any color, but of this color we know, brought from their infancy without necessity for thought or forecast, are by their habits rendered as incapable as children of taking care of themselves, and are extinguished promptly wherever industry is necessary for raising young.
In a nutshell, Jefferson wrote that people of all races would likely be reduced to dependency by being raised in slavery. In a 1789 letter, Jefferson detailed why he thought this:
  • “A man’s moral sense must be unusually strong, if slavery does not make him a thief. He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own, can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in any thing but force.”
  • “Many Quakers in Virginia seated their slaves on their lands as tenants. … These slaves chose to steal from their neighbors rather than work. They became public nuisances, and in most instances were reduced to slavery again.”
Jefferson emphasized that his understanding of these events was “imperfect,” because they occurred at a distance from him. Thus, he said he would be making a trip to investigate the situation in person.
In the same letter, Jefferson stated he had “no doubt” that black people “brought up, as others are, in habits of property and foresight” would be “good citizens.” This directly refutes the accusation that Jefferson viewed black people as incapable. In fact, he was commenting upon the harmful effects of slavery.

“Inferior to Whites”

Regarding the claim that Jefferson said blacks are “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind,” he actually said this was his “suspicion only.” In the same work, Jefferson did write degrading things about the “superior beauty” of whites, the “very strong and disagreeable odor” of blacks, and the “improvement of the blacks” when they mate with whites. However, he expressed skepticism about many of his conclusions and later wrote that he wished to see a “complete refutation” of them and find that black and white people are “on a par.” He then added:
My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation; but whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others.
Looking at these and other writings by Jefferson about race, it is clear that he struggled to make sense of the limited science and observations available to him. Furthermore, he was keenly aware that his knowledge was restricted, and hence, he largely avoided firm conclusions. As he wrote in a 1791 letter to the Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences:
I am happy to be able to inform you that we have now in the United States a negro, the son of a black man born in Africa, and of a black woman born in the United States, who is a very respectable Mathematician. … I have seen very elegant solutions of Geometrical problems by him. Add to this that he is a very worthy and respectable member of society. He is a free man. I shall be delighted to see these instances of moral eminence so multiplied as to prove that the want of talents observed in them is merely the effect of their degraded condition, and not proceeding from any difference in the structure of the parts on which intellect depends.

Some people are willing to look past Jefferson’s ownership of slaves, because he was a product of his time. This, however, does not tell the full story, because Jefferson was ahead of his time in this respect. In the world in which he lived, Jefferson and other founders of the U.S. were unique in that they opposed slavery, despite the fact that it was widely practiced throughout history and across cultures.

Barack Obama and many others say that slavery is America’s “original sin,” but there was nothing original about it. Per the Encyclopædia Britannica:
  • “Slavery is known to have existed as early as the Shang dynasty (18th–12th century [BC]) in China. … Slavery continued to be a feature of Chinese society down to the 20th century.”
  • “Slaves have been owned in black Africa throughout recorded history. In many areas there were large-scale slave societies, while in others there were slave-owning societies. Slavery was practiced everywhere even before the rise of Islam, and black slaves exported from Africa were widely traded throughout the Islamic world.”
  • “Slaves were owned in all Islamic societies, both sedentary and nomadic, ranging from Arabia in the center to North Africa in the west and to what is now Pakistan and Indonesia in the east.”
  • “Slavery existed in ancient India, where it is recorded in the Sanskrit Laws of Manu of the 1st century [BC]. The institution was little documented until the British colonials in the 19th century made it an object of study because of their desire to abolish it.”
  • “Slavery was widely practiced in other areas of Asia as well. A quarter to a third of the population of some areas of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) were slaves in the 17th through the 19th centuries and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, respectively.”
  • “Slaves were also prominent in Scandinavia during the Viking era, 800–1050 [AD], when slaves for use at home and for sale in the international slave markets were a major object of raids. Slaves also were present in significant numbers in Scandinavia both before and after the Viking era.”
  • “Slavery was much in evidence in the Middle East from the beginning of recorded history. It was treated as a prominent institution in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi of about 750 [BC].”
As John Jay, president of the Continental Congress, wrote, “Prior to the great revolution, the great majority or rather the great body of our people had been so long accustomed to the practice and convenience of having slaves, that very few among them even doubted the propriety and rectitude of it.”

In stark contrast to most of the world, Jefferson and other founding fathers saw slavery as evil and began a process of eradicating it.

In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson called the slave trade “a cruel war against human nature itself” that violated its “most sacred rights of life & liberty.” He accused the king of England of “suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.” However, the Continental Congress removed Jefferson’s anti-slavery language to preserve enough unity among the northern and southern colonies to survive a war against Great Britain.

In the early 1780s, Jefferson supported a plan to end slavery in Virginia, even though he felt that the peaceful coexistence of blacks and whites was not practical there because of “deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites,” and “ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained.” Thus, he proposed to:
  • “emancipate all slaves born after passing the act.”
  • keep them “with their parents to a certain age, then be brought up, at the public expense, to tillage, arts or sciences, according to their geniuses.”
  • equip them “with arms, implements of household and of the handicraft arts, feeds, pairs of the useful domestic animals, etc.”
  • settle them in “such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper.”
  • “extend to them our alliance and protection.”
In 1784, Jefferson drafted a law to prohibit slavery in all of the western states. It lost by one vote, and Jefferson wrote, “The voice of a single individual would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country.”
Two years later, Jefferson lamented:
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment, & death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment be deaf to all those motives whose power supported him through his trial, and inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
As president in 1807, Jefferson signed into law an act “to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States.” The law also prohibited any U.S. citizen from building, fitting, equipping, loading, or otherwise preparing a slave ship.

Why, then, did Jefferson own slaves? He was born into a slaveholding family and inherited about 40 slaves when he was only 14 years old, because his father died. He later inherited slaves from his father-in-law and bought about 20 slaves in order to reunite families and fulfill labor needs. Jefferson owned about 600 slaves, freed two of them during his lifetime, freed five more in his will, and effectively freed three others by letting them escape.

Scholars have speculated as to why Jefferson did not free all of his slaves, but given what he heard about the ill fate of other freed slaves and his view that slavery robbed people of the self-reliance needed to survive in that era, it may have been that Jefferson felt trapped between his disdain for slavery and the hard realities of life at the time. To that effect, in 1820 he wrote:
I can say with conscious truth that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would, to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way.
Later Developments

A year before he died, Jefferson wrote that slavery was one of the “greatest anxieties” of his lifetime, but “the march of events has not been such” to end it “within the limits of time allotted to me.” Hence, he left this task to “the work of another generation.”

Four decades later, Jefferson’s vision became a reality when the U.S. Constitution was amended to prohibit slavery. The amendment, which banned “slavery” and “involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” echoed the words that Jefferson drafted to ban slavery in the west:
That after the year 1800, there shall be neither slavery or involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of a crime, whereof the party shall have been convicted to have been personally guilty.
Many years later, Jefferson’s desire to see a “complete refutation” of the view that there are fundamental biological differences between human races came to pass due to the advances of modern science:
  • The science of physiology proved that all races have the same coloring pigment in their skin (melanin), and differences in skin color stem merely from the quantity of it.
  • The science of genetics showed that there is more genetic variation among the people of any race than there is between one race and another.
  • Medical experience demonstrated that the “transplantation of organs across racial groups can be performed without fear of an additional problem occurring as a result of some inherent difference between the donor and recipient races.”
  • Nationally representative tests on the mental capacities of children found “only minor racial differences” that “disappear with the inclusion of a limited set of controls.”
  • Standardized tests revealed that people of all races excel intellectually when they have competent schooling.
Jefferson didn’t have this scientific data, but his words and deeds still moved the causes of universal freedom and racial equality forward. Ironically, the same factions of society that slander Jefferson revere others who came after him and set these causes backwards. A prime example is Charles Darwin and his early supporters, who routinely declared that blacks were evolutionarily inferior to whites. For example, in an 1871 book entitled The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous [human-like] apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
In the words of a Harvard University Press book written by Stephen Jay Gould, one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century:
Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859 [when Darwin’s Origin of Species was published], but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.
This continues to the current day. A 2015 serial work about academic theories on Africa describes “a significant body of modern scientific literature” from “comparative and evolutionary psychology” claiming that “sub-Saharan African populations have, on average, very low intelligence….” This book also:
  • states that it is “by no means outside the mainstream in some fields of scientific research to claim that Africans are cognitively and/or culturally inferior specimens of humanity not fully evolved from earlier forms or left behind in the course of recent and rapid biological and cultural evolution.”
  • cites six sources to document that the “evidentiary basis” of such conclusions are “extremely poor….”
Yet, the University of Virginia celebrates a “Darwin Day,” and the first 100 Google results for Darwin Day University of Virginia show no criticism of this event. This, in conjunction with professors’ and students’ deceitful attacks on Jefferson, beg the question of the real basis of these attacks.

Given the leftist and anti-U.S. attitudes that prevail on many college campuses and in other segments of the public, and given the facts that Jefferson “molded the American spirit and mind,” wrote that people’s rights don’t come from government but from “their Creator,” stated that government should “not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned,” and declared that the U.S. Constitution does not allow the federal government to create social welfare programs, it is understandable how Jefferson would become the object of their hatred and slander.

Addendum (6/22/18): 

In addition to Jefferson’s anti-slavery actions listed above, in 1783, he drafted a constitution for the state of Virginia that would have immediately stopped “the introduction of any more slaves to reside in this state” and outlawed the enslavement of anyone born after December 31, 1800.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Flower of our Youth...

In a recent survey of self-described socialists, 95 percent of whom were under the age of thirty, 48% were unemployed; 61% still lived with their parents; 69% were “uneducated”; only 14% supported free speech; while more than three times that number, 46%, supported riots as a means of advancing their cause!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Paul Volcker, at 91, Sees “a Hell of a Mess with the Fed”

The former Fed chairman, whose memoir will be published this month, had a feisty take on the state of politics and government during a recent interview.

·        Oct. 23, 2018
Paul Volcker, wearing a blue sweatsuit and black dress socks, stretched out on a recliner in the den of his Upper East Side apartment on a Sunday afternoon. His lanky 6-foot-7 frame extended beyond the end of the chair’s leg rest. He added an ottoman to rest his feet.

“I’m not good,” said Mr. Volcker, 91, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who came to prominence after he used shockingly high interest rates to help end the runaway inflation of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Long one of finance’s wise men, he has been sick for several months.

But he would rather not talk about himself. Instead, Mr. Volcker wants to talk about the country, the economy and the government. And if he had seemed lethargic when I arrived, he turned lively in his laments: “We’re in a hell of a mess in every direction,” he said.
Hundreds of books surrounded Mr. Volcker — filling shelves and piled high on virtually every flat surface — as did pink pages of The Financial Times, folded into origami. “Respect for government, respect for the Supreme Court, respect for the president, it’s all gone,” he said. “Even respect for the Federal Reserve.

 “And it’s really bad. At least the military still has all the respect. But I don’t know, how can you run a democracy when nobody believes in the leadership of the country?”

Before Mr. Volcker fell ill, he finished his memoir, “Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government.” The book was supposed to be published in late November, but given Mr. Volcker’s health, its publisher, PublicAffairs, a unit of Hachette, moved its release up to Oct. 30.

 “I had no intention of writing a book, but there was something that kind of was irritating me,” he said. “I’m really worried about this governance thing.”

The book, which Mr. Volcker wrote with Christine Harper, editor in chief of Bloomberg Markets, is a telling memoir about a man who not only redefined the role of Fed chairman but, after the financial crisis, conceived of a namesake rule that eliminated some of the most blatant risk-taking by Wall Street banks. The Volcker Rule, which was part of the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation.

 “There is no force on earth that can stand up effectively, year after year, against the thousands of individuals and hundreds of millions of dollars in the Washington swamp aimed at influencing the legislative and electoral process,” he wrote in the book.

The memoir is at times a dishy tale of Mr. Volcker’s years in Washington. For example, while President Trump has complained in recent months about the Fed’s plan to raise interest rates, he isn’t the first to try to influence the independent Federal Reserve. Mr. Volcker recounts being summoned to meet with President Ronald Reagan and his chief of staff, James Baker, in the president’s library next to the Oval Office in 1984.

Reagan “didn’t say a word,” Mr. Volcker wrote. “Instead Baker delivered a message: ‘The president is ordering you not to raise interest rates before the election.’” Mr. Volcker wasn’t planning to raise rates at the time.

“I was stunned,” he wrote. “I later surmised that the library location had been chosen because, unlike the Oval Office, it probably lacked a taping system.”

The book is not limited to tales of the past, however. It addresses current policy, like the 2 percent inflation target that has become the goal of the Federal Reserve.

“I puzzle at the rationale,” he wrote. “A 2 percent target, or limit, was not in my textbook years ago. I know of no theoretical justification.”

With a laugh, he told me that he believed the policy was driven by fears of deflation. “And we haven’t had any deflation in this country for 90 years!”

But there is something more worrisome affecting policy than fear, he told me. Money.
Over the din of traffic outside an open window, Mr. Volcker hoarsely sounded an alarm on the power it has to shape our culture and our politics.

“The central issue is we’re developing into a plutocracy,” he told me. “We’ve got an enormous number of enormously rich people that have convinced themselves that they’re rich because they’re smart and constructive. And they don’t like government, and they don’t like to pay taxes.”

Washington, when he arrived, “was a city filled with bureaucrats,” he said. “It didn’t make them bad.” At the time, civil servants — like his father, the township manager of Teaneck, N.J. — were respected. “I grew up in a world in which good government was a good term,” he said. But things have changed. Today, he said, Washington is overrun by lobbyists and think tanks. Mr. Volcker, who started a nonprofit to improve education for public service, contends that our educational system has been perverted by money. Schools like the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, he said, have failed to educate a new generation of civil servants. He said they no longer taught governing but policy — a shift that he contended allowed them to hold forums and discussions with generals and under secretaries.

“Rich guys,” he said, “like to go.” He called it “hobnobbing wholesale.”
“They can argue war and peace and poverty and everything else,” he said. “But when you go to a school of public policy, you’re not learning how to run the goddamn government. You’re learning how to debate political issues.”

Unlike President Barack Obama, who invited Mr. Volcker to consult on economic and regulatory policy — and asked him if he would be willing to be Treasury secretary, he said — this White House hasn’t called him. Even so, he has met Mr. Trump twice, both times before he took office.

The first meeting was after Mr. Volcker left the Federal Reserve in 1987. “I was walking down the street, somebody calls out: ‘Hey, Paul! Hey, Paul!’ He comes running across the street and says, ‘Hi, I’m Donald Trump.’”

The other was an unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Volcker to get Mr. Trump to use “The Apprentice” to raise money for a charitable organization. “We had a very nice lunch, and he said, ‘Interesting idea,’ but put me off otherwise,” Mr. Volcker said.

Mr. Volcker is no great fan of the president, but he acknowledged that Mr. Trump had cannily recognized the economic worries of blue-collar workers. Mr. Trump “seized upon some issues that the elite had ignored,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that, in kind of an erratic way, but there it is.”

He wondered how many lectures and presentations he had sat through with economists “telling us open markets are wonderful, everybody benefits from open markets.”

Eventually, Mr. Volcker said, someone in those lectures would always ask, “What about that poor manufacturer in my town?” But that concern was dismissed too easily, with talk of worker retraining or some other solution far easier said than done.

Today, Mr. Volcker is already starting to worry about the next financial crisis. Asked about the stability of the banks, he said, “They’re in a stronger position than they were, but the honest answer is I don’t know how much they’re manipulating.”

That, he said, is the real challenge facing economic policymakers. “Everybody talks about monetary policy,” he said, “but the lesson of all this is we need better, stronger supervisory powers.”

Even as our conversation came to an end, Mr. Volcker looked as if he could keep talking for hours. I told him that, rather than look sick or depressed about the state of the world, he appeared energized. Or, I told him, that was at least the impression he left.
“Leave it that way,” he said.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Professor Patrick J. Deneen Interview (10/5/18)

We are honored tonight to welcome our guest, Patrick J. DeneenProfessor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame.

His most recent book is, Why Liberalism Failedwhich he is here tonight to speak about.

Professor Deneen holds the David A. Potenziani Memorial Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining their faculty in 2012, he taught at Princeton and Georgetown Universities. From 2005-2007 he served as principle Speechwriter and Special Assistant to the Director of the U.S. Information Agency, Joseph Duffey.

He teaches across his areas of interest, and offers regular courses with titles such as:
  • "Political Theory"
  • "Constitutionalism, Law, and Politics"
  • "Liberalism and Conservatism" 
  • "The End of Education" 
  • "Tocqueville's Democracy in America."
"One of the most important political books of 2018."—Rod Dreher, American Conservative

Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Roseanne Barr Believes She Was Fired Because She Voted for Donald Trump.

Roseanne Barr says she was fired from ABC for one reason: “It’s because I voted for Donald Trump.”

In a new video, Barr says she was willing to go on any show of ABC’s choosing to explain what happened with “egregious and unforgivable” to her audience.

“Instead what happened was about 40 minutes after that, my show was canceled before even one advertiser pulled out and I was labeled a racist.”

She then explains, “Why, you ask? Well, the answer is simple, it’s because I voted for Donald Trump”

As The Blast previously reported, the comedian sat down with her son, Jake, last weekend and allowed herself to be interviewed about the whole fiasco that ended with her getting fired from ABC and everyone from “Roseanne” turning their backs on her.

Jake says they’ve been working on a series of interviews that give Roseanne the chance to “control the message without the media spin.”

Some of the interviews have been with Roseanne Barr’s close friends, and provide explanation and context regarding her infamous Valerie Jarrett tweet. In the first clip released, Roseanne screams in frustration as she reiterates that she did not know Jarrett was African-American.

As we previously reported, Roseanne said she had no idea VJ was black when she made the “Planet of the Ape” comment.  It’s pretty clear her position hasn’t changed.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Larry Mendte Interview! (8/31/18)

Enjoy our exclusive interview with the great Larry Mendte of WABC 770 NY! 

His very popular Talk radio show is on Saturday nights from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM here in the Tri-state area!

Larry is an old school Talk radio host that doesn't treat callers as an after thought...

He isn't there simply because he likes to hear himself talk... He didn't take the job to hobnob with celebrities! 

This is why John & Frank are fans of his show and why John is a regular caller!

He joins us for this great discussion about the world of Talk Radio. Also some very interesting behind the scenes history that you will only hear covered on TRP!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Michael A. McFaul Interview! (8/24/18)

We are honored to welcome, Michael A. McFaul, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution.

He's a Professor of Political Science at Stanford & Director, of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. (Stanford's premier research institute for the study of International Affairs...)

He's a leading expert on Russia, American Foreign policy, and is former US ambassador to Russia (2012-2014). He's here to talk about his NY Times Best Seller, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia.

"From the diplomat Putin wants to interrogate—and has banned from Russia—a revelatory, inside account of U.S.-Russia relations from 1989 to the present."

“A fascinating and timely account of the current crisis in the relationship between Russia and the United States.” —New York Times Book Review

"Putin would need an enemy, and he turned to the most reliable one in Russia’s recent history: the United States and then, by extension, me."

In 2008, when Michael McFaul was asked to leave his perch at Stanford and join an unlikely presidential campaign, he had no idea that he would find himself at the beating heart of one of today’s most contentious and consequential international relationships. As President Barack Obama’s adviser on Russian affairs, McFaul helped craft the United States’ policy known as “reset” that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. And then, as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, he had a front-row seat when this fleeting, hopeful moment crumbled with Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. This riveting inside account combines history and memoir to tell the full story of U.S.-Russia relations from the fall of the Soviet Union to the new rise of the hostile, paranoid Russian president. From the first days of McFaul’s ambassadorship, the Kremlin actively sought to discredit and undermine him, hassling him with tactics that included dispatching protesters to his front gates, slandering him on state media, and tightly surveilling him, his staff, and his family.

From Cold War to Hot Peace is an essential account of the most consequential global confrontation of our time.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dr. Mark Andrew Holowchak Interview! (8/10/18)

We'd like to welcome to the program a true "Jeffersonian hero" if there ever was one, Dr. Mark Andrew Holowchak.

He is editor of The Journal of Thomas Jefferson's Life and Times and is a professor of philosophy & history. He is author/editor of 10 books (many more to come!) and some 80 published essays on Thomas Jefferson--all since 2013--and is acknowledged by several scholars (including John From Conn) to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on the thinking of Thomas Jefferson.

He is also author of four books on psychotherapy and many books on Greek/Roman philosophy, ethics, and critical thinking. He, like us, considers himself politically to be a Jeffersonian or a Thomas Jefferson republican, who takes very seriously Jefferson's ideal of government, which he characterizes as follows: "A government is Jeffersonian republican if and only if it allows each citizen the same opportunity to participate politically and fully in affairs within their reach and competency; it employs representatives, chosen and recallable by the citizenry and functioning for short periods, for affairs outside citizens’ reach and competency; it functions according to the rules (periodically revisable) established by the majority of the citizens; and it guarantees the equal rights, in person and property, of all citizens."

1) Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your interest in Thomas Jefferson?

2) Your CV indicates that you’ve authored 10 books on Jefferson and some 80 published essays, and that you are the editor for The Journal of Thomas Jefferson’s Life and Times (part of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society). Tell us something about the journal. What are its aims? Why the need for such a journal?

3) In a recent paper, you quote biographer Henry Adams: “A few broad strokes of the brush would paint the portraits of all the early Presidents but Jefferson could be painted only touch by touch, with a fine pencil, and the perfection of the likeness depended upon the shifting and uncertain flicker of its semi-transparent shadows.”   ...What precisely did Adams mean?

4) Was Jefferson a product of the enlightenment or was he just a genius? How did he relate his great depth and creativity to his political life?

5) Jefferson thought of his ascendancy to the presidency in 1800 as a second revolution, perhaps equally as important to the one that set off the drive for American independence. Why was that so?

6) You've said that you just moved to Lynchburg, VA. Is there a Jeffersonian reason for the move, or is there some other reason?

7) Do you think these recent smears against Jefferson are done because of a political agenda? Why has he become the fall guy? Was Thomas Jefferson a racist?

8) You mean that the “manifesto,” as you call it, moved you to Virginia? Is that right? Take us down your path—I mean, what precise course of events at Monticello forced your hand?

9) Isn’t that a change of mind from what the Thomas Jefferson Foundation said in 2000 concerning Jefferson’s affair with Sally Hemings?

10) A “sea change”? What do you mean? On what evidence does the Foundation claim that the relationship is now “factual”?

11) Will you debate revisionist Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard, (the high priestess of the Hemings cult)?

12) We know that with all the work you’ve done on Jefferson that many scholars have called you the world’s foremost authority on Jefferson’s mind—none of your books is available at Monticello’s library... Is that really so??

13) What do you think of the books: Jeffersonian Legacies, by Peter Onuf, (of Jefferson's University of Virginia) & Thomas Jefferson: A Life, by William Sterne Randall?

14) How can people contact you if they wish you to speak at their college or university or business?

Facebook: Thomas Jefferson: Bring Him Home to Monticello

Contact President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation:
(Leslie Bowman)
***Ask why there is not open discussion and debate on the issues at Monticello when the facts are not settled based on the evidence.

Recommended Books:
  • American Messiah: The Not-So-Radical Religious Views of Thomas Jefferson, University of Alabama, 2018
  • Jefferson's Bible: Text with Introduction and Critical Commentary, DeGruyter, 2018 
  • Thomas Jefferson, Moralist, McFarland, 2017 
  • Jefferson’s Political Philosophy and the Metaphysics of Utopia, Brill, 2017 
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Man behind the Myths, (contributing co-editor with Brian Dotts, UGA), McFarland, 2017 
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Philosophy of Education: A Utopian Dream, Taylor & Francis, 2014
  • Thomas Jefferson: Uncovering His Unique Philosophy and Vision, Prometheus Books, 2014
  • Thomas Jefferson and Philosophy: Essays on the Philosophical Cast of Jefferson’s Writings, Lexington Books, 2013 
  • Framing a Legend: Exposing the Distorted History of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, Prometheus Books, 2013 
  • Dutiful Correspondent: Philosophical Essays on Thomas Jefferson, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013